Doctoral Certificate in STEP

PhD students from outside of the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs may pursue a Doctoral Certificate in Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy. The certificate program allows PhD candidates to broaden their education to include SPIA courses and an advanced policy research project, typically related to their thesis, that draws on the policy-relevant social sciences.

PhD candidates interested in environmental policy topics may apply for the HMEI-STEP Fellowship, which provides additional structure and funding support to pursue a STEP certificate. However, PhD candidates who are not part of this fellowship program may also pursue the certificate. The PhD certificate requirements (listed below) are the same with or without a fellowship.

Requirements for Doctoral Certificate in Science, Technology and Environmental Policy (STEP)

PhD candidates pursuing the certificate are required to complete three (3) graduate-level courses in the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs. Doctoral students must take at least one course in each of the following categories:

  1. One SPIA STEP-approved science and technology policy course (see below for approved course list)
  2. One SPIA graduate course that is NOT a STEP-approved course, to encourage students to develop general knowledge in public policy topics. Please search the Princeton Course Catalog for a full course listing.
  3. An elective (any SPIA graduate-level course)

All courses must be taken for academic credit prior to a student entering DCE status. Two half-semester courses equal one full course toward the requirement.

Faculty Advising:
All students applying for a certificate must identify a STEP faculty member (who cannot be the student’s primary thesis adviser) to serve as their adviser for the program. (Non-SPIA faculty who are affiliated with C-PREE or CITP may, with permission of the STEP Certificate Director, serve as an adviser.)

Advanced Policy Paper:
PhD candidates must also meet the advanced policy paper requirement. Students should work with their STEP faculty advisor to ensure the paper satisfies these requirements. This paper must represent original scholarly work, deemed of publishable quality (i.e. in a peer-reviewed or equivalent publication) and is often developed as a chapter of the student’s dissertation. Candidates must also fulfill the requirements of their home department.


Students interested in obtaining the STEP certificate should complete the Certificate Declaration form online and reach out to the Certificate Director to discuss course selection and advising.

STEP Certificate Director

Elke U. Weber
Professor of Psychology & Public Affairs; Gerhard R. Andlinger Professor in Energy & the Environment

HMEI-STEP Graduate Fellowship

The HMEI-STEP Fellows are Princeton PhD students enrolled in departments outside of the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs, often (but not exclusively) from science and engineering departments. Fellows are usually selected in their second or third year.

Awarded students receive half support (tuition and stipend) from the High Meadows Environmental Institute (HMEI) for two years and participate in the Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy (STEP) program at the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs. HMEI-STEP Fellows also receive a $3,500 award to support their graduate research. Please visit the HMEI site for more information and to access the application.

2023-2024 STEP Approved Classes

Fall 2023
Spring 2024
  • SPI 548: Weapons of Mass Destruction and International Security, Chris Chyba
  • SPI 582b: Topics in Econ: The Economics of Climate Change Policy, Allan Hsiao
  • SPI 585a Topics in STEP: Societal Impacts of Data, Algorithms and AI, Aleksandra Korolova
  • SPI 586a: Topics in STEP: Machine Learning for Policy Analysis, Brandon Stewart
  • SPI 586d: Topics in STEP: Global Environmental Governance (PU/NYU), Michael Oppenheimer 
  • SPI 586e: Topics in STEP: Natural Hazards and Disaster Policy, Eric Tate
  • SPI 594g: Green Industrial Policy [Session I], Benjamin Bradlow
  • SPI 594r: Behavioral Science in Environmental Policy [Session II], Elke Weber
  • SPI 594s: Climate Change: Science, Policy and Mitigation [Session I], Denise Mauzerall
  • SPI 594u: Data Privacy in the US and Europe: A Comparative Perspective [Session II], Helena Kastlova
  • SPI 594v: Vaccination: Epidemic Dynamics, Policy and Vaccine Hesitancy [Session II], Bryan Grenfell
  • SPI 594w: Energy, Environment, Development & Justice [Session II], M.V. Ramana
  • SPI 594y: Climate Change and Health: Risks and Opportunities [Session II], Wei Peng
  • ENE 522/MAE 533: Introduction to the Electricity Sector-Engineering, Economics, and Regulation, Jesse Jenkins

2022-2023 STEP Approved Courses

Fall 2022
Spring 2023